The Big Short: Film Review
Posted on February 16, 2016
Dynamic comedy The Big Short is based on the true story of the bankers who predicted the economic crash. To the amazement of his investors, Michael Burry (Christian Bale) was the first to bet against the housing market in a practice known as ‘shorting’, but he was followed by others: notably Mark Baum aka Steve Eisman (Steve Carell) and Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt).
The Big Short marks a tuning point in the career of writer-director Adam McKay who made his name with Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy in 2004, followed by hit Will Ferrell comedies Step Brothers and The Other Guys. Parting ways with Ferrell here, McKay tackles the pertinent subject matter with a winning combination of sensitivity and sarcasm. It’s a cut above his earlier work that’s earned five Oscar nominations.
Narrated by investment banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), The Big Short demystifies economics mumbo-jumbo from ‘sub-prime’ to ‘synthetic CDOs’ with a little help from casual celebrity cameos and Vennett’s sarcastic commentary. The tone is sharp, forthright and mocking: greedy mortgage salesmen, clueless bankers and irresponsible regulators feel the sharp edge of McKay’s criticism and wit.
While we were reeling from the housing market collapse, Burry, Baum and Rickert were cashing in their investments. Incredibly though, we feel like they’re are on our side. Bale, Carell and Pitt play to their characters’ intelligence, wisdom and compassion, paying due respect to the six million losing their homes. The Big Short tackles fraudulent behaviour head on, demystifying the baffling financial crisis that brought the world to its knees.
VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5/5
Running time: 130 minutes
Images: © 2015 Paramount Pictures